FOUR schools in the Banbridge District have just been awarded the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag award for demonstrating their commitment to protecting the environment – bringing the total number of schools in the local area to achieve this award to 12.
Staff and pupils from Scarva Primary School, Bridge Primary School, Downshire Nursery School and Banbridge Nursery School attended a special ceremony at the Council’s main offices on Monday 18 June to be honoured for their innovative approach to green issues.
Speaking at one of his first engagements since being elected as Council Chairman, Councillor Junior McCrum said: “Congratulations to each school represented here today for achieving a Green Flag award and making environmental education part of your school ethos. It’s important that children are taught to value and respect the environment from an early age and the Eco-Schools programme can add a new dimension to children’s education, providing them with vital environmental knowledge to take into later life.”
Schools that achieve a Green Flag award are automatically assessed every two years. Scarva and Bridge Primary Schools and Banbridge Nursery School have received their first Green Flag while Downshire Nursery School has been awarded it for the second time.
In order to be awarded the Green Flag, each school had to undertake a number of environmental projects.
Scarva Primary School created a large vegetable garden and built a mini-beasts corner in their school’s playground. Pupils also learned to identify birds inhabiting the local area following a visit from a Bio-diversity Officer. P1 to P7 pupils also took part in a home book challenge. Each pupil was asked to undertake and record home recycling activities in a book, with a prize being awarded to the family who came up with the best recycling idea.
Bridge Primary School created their own compost from fruit and vegetable food waste and recycled paper from their classrooms. The school’s eco-committee was involved in Fairtrade assemblies, Lenten appeals, the African Coin Drop and Eco Art competition. Pupils also grew a variety of fruit and vegetables, created their own nature trail, planted wild flowers and built a greenhouse made out of recycled plastic bottles.
Downshire Nursery School focused on litter. As well as keeping their playground and car park litter free, they organised a litter pick as part of the Big Spring Clean. Pupils collected classroom waste material and reused this for junk art projects. They grew fruit and vegetables and recycled food waste using two composting bins which was then used for growing plants.
Banbridge Nursery School focused on biodiversity and built a wooden bridge and investigative area, inviting wildlife into the school grounds. Pupils undertook a range of eco-jobs each week such as collecting litter and taking care of plants and wildlife. A mini-beast area, frog house, nesting boxes and bird tables were added to the school garden and recycling initiatives such as Cash for Clobber, Big Spring Clean and Wildlife Action Awards were supported.
The Eco-Schools programme is an international initiative which is managed locally by TIDY Northern Ireland. For further information about this programme call 9073 6920 or log on to www.eco-schoolsni.org.uk